Ever dream about a safari vacation in the Serengeti? Have your kids been begging you for a day where they can play with impalas and jaguars? (And I’m not talking about cars, you American junkie.)
Well, look no further than our own Southwestern jewel of Sedona for an African experience that’s Out of Africa … and this world.
Out of Africa Wildlife Park sits on 104 acres of land atop Mingus Mountain, overlooking the spectacular red rocks and San Francisco Peaks.
In its 23 years, Out of Africa has held no boundaries. Founders Dean and Prayeri Harrison dreamt of a land where species could interact with one another as naturally as they do in Africa, and as their homepage suggests, “the concept of oneness is illustrated with unsurpassed majesty.”
Although I visited the park two years ago, my mother still talks about how she came to understand the expression, “you’re laughing like a hyena!” She saw them in action, laughing, well, like hyenas. My most memorable experience from the park? A giraffe steering his neck to lick pellets out of my hand; I really did feel at one with nature at that point.
Your standard jeep safari is a double-decker trolley that’s usually filled to capacity, but don’t let that turn you off; the tour-guide-slash-walking encyclopedia that knows everything you’d ever want to know about animals makes up for the crowded space. An ostrich egg, the world’s biggest egg, is even passed around to be admired — and boy, let me tell you, that thing is HEAVY. To be precise, they weigh 3 lbs on the average; that’s over 20 times the weight of a chicken egg!
If you’d like to keep it personal with your family, there are also more authentic, private tours that come equipped with a park guide and your dream jeep.
The park also has three once-daily shows. Unfortunately my family did not get there on time to watch these seemingly awe-inspiring shows. The Tiger Splash, everyday at 1:15 p.m., has Bengal and Siberian tigers playing fetch and swimming together all the while the MC teaches the audience about how various instinctual, animalistic behaviors become habits.
With the help of a stick and the fence between you, you can also feed a tiger for just $5 (daily at 2 p.m.). If you’d rather watch trainers do the feeding, every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 – 3:45 p.m., you can see just how much lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) eat as their caretakers lunge up to 800 pounds of raw meat their way in the Predator Feed.
Reptiles more your thing? The interactive snake show occurs daily at 2:15 p.m., where guests are able to touch, pet and hold the serpents as they wish. If you want to paint a big picture of the beauty of wildlife and each animals’ way of life, the best show to see is the Wonders of Wildlife, occurring Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 3 p.m. No matter what route you take, a day at the park is sure to be fun for the whole family, at any age.
The Arizona Safari park is open 7 days a week except Thanksgiving and Christmas day, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission closes at 4 p.m. Children 3 to 12 are $20, adults are $36. Seniors and veterans/active military get discounted. Annual membership is also available.